Mind games play a big part in the run up to all big international competitions and it is no different at St Leon-Rot where the European and American teams are counting down the hours before the start of the 14th Solheim Cup.
Both teams clearly feel they have the firepower to win the famous Waterford crystal trophy come Sunday but both also seem intent to stop well short of describing themselves as favourites. In fact, that particular “F” word seems to be “verboten” in this scenic corner of Germany as the two teams do their best to be cast as the underdogs.
The European team head into this weekend’s Solheim Cup looking to win for a third victory in-a-row but any suggestion they are favourites are quickly batted aside. It’s an interesting verbal joust and also understandable given that, when it comes down to it, there is little to choose between the two sides. To all intents and purposes, the result is simply too close to call.
European captain, Carin Koch faced the media ahead of the Gala Dinner on Wednesday and said: “Well, if you look at the Rankings, the Americans have such a strong team. They’re so much higher-ranked than we are. I think they have a great captain in Juli. I have a lot of respect for her. I know she’s worked very hard at getting this team together and coming back strong to beat us. We have those two wins, that’s nice to have, but this is Solheim Cup 2015 and we start from scratch Friday.”
Veteran Scot, Catriona Matthew, who this weekend will make her eighth Solheim Cup appearance, said: “I think obviously World Ranking-wise, their average would be certainly a lot higher than ours. They’re going to go in here as favourites. They pretty much every year go in as probably the bookmaker’s favourites. “We’re on home soil this time. We’ve got a good team, pretty much the same team we had in Colorado. I think we have a very good team spirit. We all get along with each other. We just try to enjoy it. Obviously you enjoy it more if you win. But we’ve been lucky the last couple. We just need to go out there and give it our best.”
Meanwhile, the Americans were equally intent on disowning the “F” word. “I’ve never met somebody who wasn’t holding a trophy that said they were the favourite,” said Angela Stanford. “I wouldn’t consider them (the Europeans) underdogs. I don’t think any team that hasn’t held the trophy the last two times could be the favourite. So it’s obviously their opinion, but I don’t agree.
“I’m not sure there is such a thing as a favourite this week. I don’t think so. I really don’t. People say, on paper. Well, paper doesn’t play. Its match play, anything can happen. I think on paper people say we are better. And I mean that’s, that might be factual, because you can look at numbers. But when you get out on the course, its golf and it’s match play, and absolutely anything can happen. And you can’t put on paper somebody’s heart. It’s hard to say if there’s a favourite or not.”